Here I will show you a simple solution how to get metadata and MP4 tags under control. Because, as we all know, order is half the battle. This is especially true for your film library or your video collection.
Who wants to spend half his life arranging and labeling things neatly? Exactly! That also applies to video files. A handful of video files you can easily handle. If you label the files reasonably well, you will find them in the depths of your computer system.
- Those who add metadata to their films and videos can create their own digital video library from their DVDs without file labels or folders. The videos can then be sorted using the search function in the browser and accessed for a keyword search (by film title, director, actor, year, etc.).
- The MP4 video format is particularly suitable for this purpose, because the data can be written directly (but invisibly) into the video file with the right tool.
- As a professional, you can set tags directly in the editing program. Or add them later with special software like MetaX.
The secret is called metadata
With a few hundred videos or digitized films, this naturally becomes more difficult. Of course, you can put all the data in a single folder. But if you want to search your films by director, actor’s name or other criteria, good night.
Sure, you can create a database for this in laborious manual work. Or you can buy the software for a video archive.
It’s easier with tags set as metadata. This is structured information such as names or even images that are attached to an existing video file. This is always possible if the video format is its so-called container file.
Here I show you how to do this. And I’ll also show you the best tool I still use to manage my entire digitally archived DVD library.
Insider tip for MP4 tags: MetaX by Dan Hinsley
My insider tip is a little software called MetaX by developer and programmer Dan Hinsley for MP4 tags. With MetaX you can neither cut nor convert a video. But you can perfectly complement MP4 videos with metadata.
This works just as well for your own videos with MetaX as for your old DVDs or BluRays. For feature films you can even have all the information your collector’s heart desires inserted automatically. Cover included.
You have to pay MetaX. You can download the program for free. But it only works with the license key. This costs you €8, but with this key you open up a universe for yourself. You won’t get your MP4 tags more professional with an editor.
If you work with the MetaX software, you will notice immediately: the programmer himself also works with this software. The functions are well thought-out, clever and often intuitive to use. If you need more support for your MP4 Tags, you can find them as video tutorials on the MetaX website.
Even the humour does not come off badly. In the software, you can check a hidden box in the menu so that MetaX does the moo after calculating the metadata. Whether Dan Hinsley had users from Bavaria or Switzerland in mind?
Proven and well maintained
The MetaX Tag Editor for MP4 was recently optimized again (June 2018). Even though the program has been on the market for years – so you get the latest version for Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista and XP. Fans of Steve Jobs will go away empty-handed for once with MetaX, even though the MP4 format works well with Apple.
But if you work with Windows (it’s faster and cheaper anyway, word is slowly getting around in professional image editing), you get what Dan Hinsley himself thinks is important: a No Bull software. No Bull stands for … – guess: for No Bullshit.
What do MP4 tags / metadata do?
Many users are unaware that their computer not only stores (or can store) the data and file names in a file, but that it also stores additional information. This is the metadata. They are on an intermediate level (the word meta means in Greek = in the middle, between, together with …). Depending on the software, metadata may also be visible to the user or only to the computer.
You know this from YouTube. If you upload your films there, you can insert keywords (tags) of your choice under the text description. These help the video platform to understand what the video is about.
This also works for video, image and music files. Here you can insert additional information directly and invisibly for the viewer into the video format. The prerequisite for this is that it is a container format.
Metadata can record the properties of a file. For example the time of creation or the name of the person who created or last edited the file. However, it is also possible to define and use metadata specifically. Mostly one speaks then of tags. In English, a tag is a label or tag.
Also important for search engines
Also good to know: Tags and metadata are automatically captured by all common Internet portals. That’s why metadata for MP4 videos as well as for photos or audio files optimizes search engine retrieval. Of course only if they are freely available online.
Metadata of a video that is integrated into a web page via YouTube looks like this to Google’s search robot
Notice how the file name (Name) and the description (Description) are different. This is an indication that they were created by hand and deliberately set for SEO optimization. How the videos are labeled online for the user, you can see here.
There are metadata, which you can see without tools. So in a player or in Windows Explorer. And data that you can only see with the appropriate software. Either way, the bots of search engines for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) read this data.
How do I create metadata for MP4 videos without MetaX?
You can also insert or edit metadata with other software. Either you use a special program like the already mentioned MetaX as editor. Or you already have a function within a program package that allows you to edit tags. This is the case with most editing programs. Here you can enter the corresponding values in no time. This is also the case with many programs that allow you to convert videos from one format to another.
For Windows and Apple, you can enter the metadata in the appropriate fields in Adobe Premiere (editing program, fee required) or Wondershare Video Converter (also available as a free version). As soon as you save the video file, the metadata will be linked to the video.
Adobe lets you insert only a limited amount of information in XMP format at Premiere. Other values such as film length or format are added automatically. Completely professional editing program, the metadata serve here, in particular also as interface to other software of the Adobe program family (After Effects, Media Encoder, Character Animator, etc.).
Wondershare on the other hand is aimed more at the non-professional user. This software also lets you enter the metadata for the categories director, actor, film type, etc. If you want to search or sort your own digital film library for these terms, you are well served.
Many programs automatically pull metadata information from other sources. This includes your username that you use to log in to your computer. Or the label of the video file. In the latter case, it may already look like “v2018-09-1_a_final-final-final-short version-2”. Search Enginge Optimiziation works differently. It is user-friendly, but it has some disadvantages:
If you send an image film to a client, you don’t want to have the data from postproduction or the client’s color grader pop up instead of your own data. Or anything else that you don’t have under control. Or on your radar.
What people forget or don’t know – even many professionals – is that metadata includes video thumbnails. This allows you to assign a movie poster or cover image to your movie or video. This is then displayed on computers.
This makes a lot of sense not only for your digitally archived movies (unless you kept the DVD with the beautifully designed original covers).